According to some research, about 3% of people attending fitness clubs have addictions that negatively affect their health and psychological well-being. Every day thousands of people all over the world play sports not because they really like it, but because they force themselves to do it. Fitness mania is not a myth, but a harsh reality and the flip side of a healthy lifestyle, which is not usually discussed.

From this article, you will learn how fitness mania manifests itself and why you need to fight it.

The dangers of fitness mania

Fitness addiction is a term that your friends may use to describe how much they enjoy going to the gym. However, unlike an obsession with chocolate or shoes, fitness obsession has real psychological and physical consequences. Dr. Heather Hugenblass compares this phenomenon to drug or alcohol addiction. 

He states that similar to substances in drugs and alcohol affecting the brain, fitness mania can take over the emotional centers of the brain, so one needs more and more exercise to feel good. And in case one breaks the schedule, they encounter so-called “withdrawal symptoms”, such as anxiety, irritability, fatigue, depression, headaches, etc.

How fitness mania develops

So when does a healthy habit turn into an uncontrollable addiction? It all starts in a positive way, with a good exercise program that you really enjoy. But eventually, you stop feeling satisfied after a 60-minute workout session, so you need more and more activity to feel confident. 

People struggling from fitness mania may even neglect work or study duties in favor of training. Oftentimes, they cannot even participate in something that used to bring joy, like meeting friends, because of visiting a fitness club. Basically, if the gym becomes the centerpiece of your schedule, you are at a risk. 

The symptoms of "overtraining" caused by fitness mania

  • constant fatigue;
  • it is difficult for you to recover before the next workout;
  • faster heart beating;
  • lack of appetite after training and during rest;
  • pain in muscles and joints;
  • headache;
  • nausea;
  • insomnia;
  • immunity decreases;
  • gastrointestinal disorders.

Secondary fitness obsession

Heather Husenblass states that many people with eating disorders are at risk for fitness mania. For them, sport becomes a tool for controlling the number of calories consumed and their burning. In this case, exercise is perceived as an alternative form of control over body shape and overall appearance. The process itself is no longer important to people with eating disorders like orthorexia. 

Fitness mania harm

Physical health

Excessive exercise can do more harm to health than good. When training becomes too harsh, and its intensity goes off scale, the athlete does not have time to recover. Some are so obsessed with sports that they continue to train with injuries, which only worsens the situation.  Hence, the risk of developing osteoporosis and heart disease increases.

Emotional health

Anyone who is addicted to exercise cannot feel happy without it. Ordinary life for such a person becomes boring. In addition, over time, the athlete develops resistance to euphoria, they need more and more exercise in order to feel the same effect from training. As soon as they stop working out for a while, they begin to experience something similar to withdrawal symptoms, which are accompanied by depression and anxiety.

 Social and personal life

A sports addict can easily cancel a work appointment, refuse to hang out with friends, or donate dinner with family just because he needs to exercise. Sometimes this leads to layoffs, a change in social circle, problems in family life.

The dangers of fitness inspiration

With the increase in fitness mania, researchers have shifted their focus to social media, which obviously plays an important role here. “Pictures with the hashtag #fitspiration are designed to motivate people to exercise. But unfortunately, they often fail to do so. Research shows that they can actually force people to give up sports because they cannot achieve perfection.” experts explain.

Important Note: Not everyone who follows inspirational fitness Instagram accounts is a fitness addict. However, every fitness addict consumes and generates predominantly this type of content.

Final thoughts

Obsession with any actions – even if we are talking about good and useful activities, such as sports,  – is abnormal and contradicts the development of a healthy personality. In order not to bring yourself to a state of obsession with sports, contact a specialist to create your individual training program.

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